The need for collaborative social group tools became heavily apparent to me two years ago when I was at the annual student programming board retreat for our university. At the time, I was the advisor to this group and we had just completed a fantastic weekend of bonding and learning in Boston. As the eleven of us started piling into our cars, one of the members jumped out and shouted that we all had to pull out our phones and download the GroupMe app so that we could stay connected.
All but three of them had the same response, which was, “What is GroupMe and why do we need it?” We were quickly convinced that this would be the easiest way for all of us to collaborate, share images, split dinner checks and send updates in between meetings and throughout the remainder of the summer. With invites sent and apps downloaded, we waited to see the magic unfold.
GroupMe features free group messaging that works like a private chat room. The tool can be accessed on a desktop computer, tablet or mobile app (iOS, Android and Windows smartphones). If needed, the service also allows users to chat via SMS. Members can take advantage of the following features:
- Direct message individual users
- Custom emoji
- Location sharing
- Like messages
- Share photos and view in a gallery
- Share videos from the app or from the device.
GroupMe proved to be a social tool that allowed our small group to continue a conversation throughout the course of the year. Sometimes these were mini decisions about the color of a shirt, sometimes a quick update on a performer coming to campus and sometimes an image of a poster design. By a show of likes (hearts in the app), we could quickly vote on images and questions as a group. For this busy team, the most helpful part was that we could quickly get the word out to ask for additional help and volunteers at events. Since August 4, 2013, I have had the pleasure of being a member of seven GroupMe collaborative teams. Two of these were with a professional association to help coordinate decisions and volunteers and the other five were with student groups at the university.
Over the same period of time, I have also been a member of collaborative teams that utilized the Wiggio service. Wiggio was not introduced to me with nearly the level of excitement as GroupMe. Wiggio also helps groups collaborate around a common topic or goal but it is a much more asynchronous experience in comparison. The tool, however, does a number of things that GroupMe does not and does it in a way that holds the group more accountable for work. The features include:
- Folder and file management
- Group polling
- Email, text and voice messaging
- Tasks and to-do lists
- Group calendar
- Virtual meetings and conference calls.
At the time, Wiggio also had a mobile app. It was less than impressive, so I always gravitated toward the desktop version. At the time of this blog, the app is unavailable in the iTunes App Store for download (I posted a question on the company Facebook page to confirm).
In quick comparison, if I wanted to:
- Find documents from a previous chairperson, Wiggio provides the best platform;
- Get a quick response from a group member, GroupMe is the best bet;
- Set a virtual meeting with the group, Wiggio is the winner;
- Send some motivational praise, GroupMe will deliver.
If this were a formal dinner party, Wiggio would show up in a tuxedo and GroupMe would arrive in a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts.
There is something for Wiggio to learn from GroupMe: be more fun. The loss of the Wiggio mobile app does not help in this regard. It feels exciting and fun to collaborate on GroupMe. It gives that instant gratification that we all yearn for in social media. Each tool cannot be everything to every group, however, Wiggio can capitalize on the strength of its platform by adding some additional elements of fun and dynamism.
This blog is part of my MKT-555 Social Media course and fulfills the 4.2 course project requirement.
GroupMe. (n.d.). Official GroupMe Account. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from https://groupme.com/
Wiggio. (n.d.). Official Wiggio Account. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from https://wiggio.com/